Monday, March 26, 2007

Mass Media: Propaganda Masquerades as News

Jo Swift

26 March 2007

It's not only the right-wing media

who are the government's propagandists

The liberal media also run

the hate campaign against Iran

They are part of an establishment

that benefits from war-mongering,

militarism and the demonisation of enemies

US-UK policy in the Middle East

is driven by Western corporations’ desire

to control oil resources on their terms

That means mass violence, intimidation,

and punishment of ‘rogue states’

defying western imperial control

There are also huge profits

to be made from waging perpetual war

America has one strategic interest

in the Middle East: oil

Everything else is gravy, sentiment, or rhetoric

The US-UK governments and media have quickly managed to transform another defenceless Third World country into another apparently looming threat.

It is only five years since the media were rejecting the idea that Iran was a credible part of an “axis of evil”, emphasising its vibrant, modernising culture and increasingly close ties to Europe.

This was before the US-UK establishment needed a scapegoat to blame for the catastrophe in Iraq, and before it needed a new threat to maintain domestic discipline through fear in the standard manner.

Iran is now being presented as a sinister, irresponsible menace determined to wipe Israel off the map - a threat that must be countered. This propaganda closely matches the campaign against Iran: for Saddam Hussein read President Ahmadinejad.

For Iraqi links to al Qaida read Iranian links to Shia terrorists. For Saddam’s ’intent’ to develop weapons of mass destruction read Iran’s ‘intent’ to develop nuclear weapons. For the Iraqi Republican Guard read Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

It's not only the right-wing media who are the front men for government policy. The liberal media are fully participating in the hate campaign against Iran.

The media are part of an establishment that benefits from war-mongering, militarism and the demonisation of enemies.

US-UK policy in the Middle East is driven by Western corporations’ desire to control oil resources on their terms. That means mass violence, intimidation, punishment of ‘rogue states’ defying US-UK control, and so on.

There are also huge profits to be made from waging perpetual war. As has been observed the similarity between a factory manufacturing nappies and one manufacturing cruise missiles is that the manufacturer goes out of business if the product isn’t used.

In his first few months in office, Bush appointed 32 former arms company executives, board members and major shareholders to key policymaking positions in his administration.

So that’s a factor - war is good for a very powerful section of the business community whose influence is deeply entrenched in the political system.

It’s usually not that the corporate media consciously conspire to support this system.

Rather, ‘respectable’ comes to be defined as opinion which defers to the establishment’s “necessary illusions“.

To challenge those illusions is to be ‘irresponsible’, ridiculed, reviled as ’unpatriotic’.

Dissidents are deprived of political and financial support, and generally marginalised. What is left is what we read, watch and hear as mainstream output.

Is it really that significant what the journalists say? Surely people can make their own minds up?

Yes, it is very, very significant what journalists say. In many people’s minds now - despite the parallels with the lies over Iraq - there is surely a sense that maybe Iran does represent a threat and that something really does need to be done.

Maybe Iran would give the bomb to al Qaeda. Can we afford to take the risk? Maybe Iran would attack Israel with a nuclear weapon, if it got half a chance. The novelist and media commentator Martin Amis said on a leading BBC TV political review last October:

"Iran is our natural enemy.”

Amis went so far as to claim that Iran would be willing to pay the price of nuclear retaliation in order to annihilate Israel:

“They feel they can absorb this hit and destroy Israel.”

These are really extraordinary claims - more extreme even than most claims made against Iraq 2002-2003 - and of course they have an effect on people‘s perceptions.

This propaganda is crucial because it means the groundwork is being laid for a military attack.

If and when that attack comes, the public may well not be as outraged and opposed as they ought to be. Their response may be one of shock and concern, but they may feel it was in some sense necessary.

This means the kind of public horror and revulsion that could lead to genuine rejection of killers like Blair, Straw, Bush and co, and a genuine demand for real alternatives (ie not Brown and Cameron), will once again have been pacified and neutralised, and the killing will continue into the future as it always has in the past.

All it needs is for a critical mass of journalists to “normalise the unthinkable” to use Edward Herman’s phrase - to create a sufficient level of fear, doubt and deference to those proclaiming the urgent need for mass violence. Herman has written:

“There are almost no holds barred, and almost nothing in the way of subversion and military attack that the mainstream media won’t normalize.

"After all we are WE, the good and necessary policeman in service to global interests.”

When we take a step back from the propaganda we can see that this constant emphasis on mass violence as the solution of choice to the world’s problems is really strange.

Why in the 21st century, with all our wealth, sophisticated communisations, technology and interconnected economies, would we believe that employing essentially medieval methods such as firing cruise missiles and dropping bombs is the best or only way to solve these problems?

It really is a form of feigned social insanity in our view.

What would a more honest media be telling us about Iran?

That Iran offers no threat to a West bristling with doomsday nuclear weapons.

That any Iranian use of nuclear weapons would result in instant national annihilation - it would be history’s first known act of national suicide.

That Iran is of course completely aware of this, as was Saddam Hussein (one reason why the latter did not deploy his biological and chemical weapons during the 1991 Gulf War).

That high-tech surveillance equipment can detect any attempts to manufacture the components required to produce weapons of mass destruction.

That, motivated by greed for oil, Britain and America organised a military coup in Iran in 1952 which toppled the democratically elected government of Mussadiq.

That the same Western powers then sent hundreds of tanks and thousands of guns to prop up the terroristic dictatorship of the Shah.

The United States has one strategic interest in the Middle East: oil. Everything else is gravy, sentiment, or rhetoric. David Edwards & David Cromwell @ UK Indymedia

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